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The Retrogressive State of Our Public Libraries is Appauling

A library, in simple terms denotes a building containing several educational and informative materials which are accessible to the public. Being an arena that promotes knowledge, a library is very important in life generally because it acts as the intellectual memory of a place, either a nation or a community. Two broad categories that are worthy of note in the categories of Nigerian libraries are:

  • Academic Libraries
  • State Libraries

Academic libraries denote those libraries that are attached to tertiary institutions like colleges of education or universities e.g Nnamdi Azikiwe Library of the University of Nigeria Nsukka, Enugu State. They are equally found in research institutes e. g The Nigerian Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies library, Jos, Plateau State. State libraries are those found in the states of the federation.

Every state in Nigeria has at least one state or national library. The traditional means of obtaining information by visiting and using the books and published journals in a library has been and is still in existence today however, it is gradually phasing out. With the advancement in technology, it is no longer news that the internet can now easily be accessed by anyone that requires updated and current information on almost any and everything and so visiting a library has somewhat become almost unnecessary these days.

Owing to that fact, most libraries have incorporated Information and Communication Technology (ICT) into their systems and with the current technological growth, a handful of libraries are now equipped with the latest ICT gadgets needed to meet the present demands of an ICT driven target community.

A good example of this is the establishment of the digital library in about three (3) universities in Nigeria namely Ahmadu Bello University, University of Lagos, and University of Nigeria Nsukka. Truth be told, advancement in technology seems to have done more good than harm to this generation. The challenge though, is that only a handful of the libraries in Nigeria actually have such facilities, and for the ones that do, most of the facilities are in poor conditions that range from erratic internet facilities or damaged devices.

In some libraries for instance, it is impossible to print out documents which have been researched on, via the internet due to the poor condition or outright damage of the printers available there. This poses a problem for people who do not own flash drives, as they have to resort to borrowing one or copying the downloaded materials directly from the internet.

In a situation where one consults a journal and requires the sources of his work he would have to painstakingly copy them all out, which can be truly tasking. The root of the aforementioned problems can be narrowed down to inadequate funding by the authorities responsible. As with any venture, the state of that venture is determined by the resources available and the resources available depends largely on the funds available to manage such venture.

The Nigerian libraries are no exception. Research shows that the state libraries are mainly funded by the federal and state government while the academic libraries are funded partly by the government and partly by their parent institutions. Once adequate funds are released I believe the Nigerian libraries would provide more efficient services if corruption by stakeholders is not actually the true cause of the aforementioned dilapidation in the available public libraries within the country (Nigeria).